Coping With Stress and a Diagnosis of Chronic Neurological Illness
Anyone diagnosed with a serious or chronic health condition knows the initial fright or shock when they first hear the news. Any diagnosis, whether it’s high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease or cancer is life-changing and stressful. There is no way to list every stressful illness. Some illnesses are stressful because they are often misdiagnosed or misunderstood. Here are four examples of stressful medical conditions of this type.

A diagnosis of Dysautonomia means the patient has a dysfunctional autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system controls the heart rate, blood pressure, temperature regulation, vision and digestion. The most prevalent symptoms of dysautonomia are dizziness or fainting, Periods of high or low heart rate and unstable blood pressure.

Prior to diagnosis, patients are often told their symptoms are simply anxiety. Some are informed there is nothing wrong because all test results are normal. Even with a diagnosis, some doctors are not well-versed.

Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition, thought to be caused by over-active pain receptors in the brain. It is characterized by widespread body pain and debilitating fatigue.

The diagnosis of fibromyalgia is a diagnosis of exclusion. It can take several years of new doctors, and a battery of test before a determination is made. Although fibromyalgia is recognized as a disability, some doctors still don’t “believe” in fibromyalgia, or mistakenly view it as a psychological disorder. This condition is stressful because the patient’s pain is often dismissed. Some doctors no longer treat fibromyalgia patients due to the restrictions in prescribing pain medication.

Multiple Sclerosis
MS is a potentially disabling disease of the central nervous system. The immune system attacks the protective myelin sheath that covers nerve fibers. Often the disease will affect vision, speech or motor functions. This condition can cause people to develop symptoms during a relapse that may resolve either partially or completely, only to have new symptoms appear later. There are several forms of MS. Some people will face a steady progression of symptoms without remission.

Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome
Ehlers-Danlos (EDS) is a group of hereditary disorders that affect collagen production. Because of the collagen defect, those with Ehlers-Danlos have abnormally loose, flexible joints that are prone to dislocation. This disorder can also cause loose, highly elastic skin and fragile blood vessels. There is no cure for EDS, but treatment can manage symptoms and prevent additional complications. A physical therapist may recommend bracing to keep joints from dislocating.

Every medical condition comes with its own list of concerns and stressful considerations. Often patients experience stress when there is a discrepancy between what others assume they should do and what their conditions will allow. Education is the key to understanding.

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